The belief that he would kill still sent spiders down my spine. I wrapped my fingers more tightly around my cup of coffee. 2
"No wonder my fingers are stiff and sore. I'm clutching everything tightly."
We had played Truth or Dare with Jen and Joe, Colleen, and a John, we didn't know. We played it at Joe's, as usual . That night it was quite different.
We met :-)the end of last winter. I was walking home with two paper bags, with paper handles, and groceries. The snow was becoming slushy, the air temperature today was almost forty.
"It's so warm today I think I'll cut through the park. Perhaps I'll see some snow on the ends of evergreens ready to drop off; I love that."
Spying a bench with just a strip of snow on it I smiled. I walked to it and placed both bags in one hand as I swept the snow away with the other.
"How dumb was I?"
After sitting for a few joyful minutes, I stood and let one hand snatch the bag off my lap,with the other hand, I grabbed the bag on the bench.
"Oh no!" was my first thought.
"Damn!" was my second, as the wet bottom of the bag vomited my groceries onto the ground. I sat back down on the edge of the bench, attempting to snatch my runaway food cans up.
I hadn't seen him coming, but there he was. That voice drifted into my head. Deep and sexy.
"Here, let me help you."
I froze, my hand on the can of tomatoes, which was the only thing keeping me balanced on the bench. After what seemed like forever, I slapped a smile on my face. Pulling my upper body back into a sitting position. I was looking into the most bottomless blue eyes I had ever seen. Unruly blond hair ends escaping from under a navy knit hat.
"OMG! He is so handsome."
"AH, oh, I stammered, you don't need to, but thanks for the offer."
He smiled, and of course, he had perfect white teeth. He was already lowering his knee to the pavement.
" You'll get your pants all wet. "Duh!"
The voice explained to my simple mind, "Yes, I figured that after I saw you brush the snow off the bench. You know, warm day, pavement heats?"
"Just how long have you been watching me?"
I started feeling a little tense. "He was a stranger."
"Can you put any of the smaller things, like this package of cheese, in the other bag? I'm Brent, by the way, and not long at all. I'm just here to help. Should I just move along?"
Staring into one another's eyes, as he spoke, landed our hands on the same can, mine over his. I dropped my eyes and blushing face while I moved my hand to my lap.
"NO, I don't want you to leave." No, I certainly didn't want Mr. Eyes leaving.
"Great, now I seem desperate. I am waiting for pretty ladies to drop groceries so I can save the day."
"How do you do Brent. I'm Colleen."
If my smile were any more sizable, it would have been ear to ear. It might well be me who is desperate.
"Hi, now about this cheese?"
"Yes, it will fit in this bag, but I'm afraid it's all that will."
Brent cocked his head as though he was thinking, causing his neck muscles to pop.
"I can't believe I'm about to swoon over some guy's neck muscle. Get it together, Colleen."
Then His head popped up straight.
"I have pockets in my coat, even one on the inside."
Putting his other knee on the wet pavement put him in the prayer position. He unbuttoned his coat, flipping one side open, no pocket. Brent quickly opened the other side and smiled.
I was the one who should be in a prayer position, praying my tongue didn't roll out. It sure looked like Brent's muscles didn't stop at his neck.
I had also noticed the status of his clothes. Coat sleeve ends frayed. His shirt, I saw, once I could pull my eyes off the muscle under it, was neat but worn as well. His words made me startled.
"Ah, ha! Seems I have one on this side of my jacket. Something will fit in there."
"Did he just say something will fit in there? Stop it and listen to the man."
"We have our coats' outer pockets, and I have pants pockets. Colleen, what shape are your pockets in?"
Like an idiot, I pulled my coat pockets inside out to show him.
"Let's put whatever foods we can in them, like this package of,"
Brent stared at the label. He then looked at me, eyes bright and jaw slack. He spoke like a kid at Christmas, seeing the best gift ever.
“You have, Couque d’Asse? I love these biscuits, didn't know you could even get them anymore !"
Listening to his words, I had no intention of saying anything, but they just tumbled out of my mouth, like spilled beans.
"Well, if you like tea, I would be happy to serve you tea and Coque d'Asse back at my apartment when we get these groceries there?"
"What did I just do? I have known Brent for all of ten minutes. I could not stop my eyelids fluttering in shock as I waited for his answer."
His face was unreadable, of course. Then a slow smile built on that handsome face.
"I would love to come for tea and Coque d'Asse, as long as you're sure about it.?"
"Of course," I was sure. I was because that was the moment I fell in love with Brent.
Joe and I had known each other from first grade through high school. After school, we drifted apart. I ran into his Mom one day about three years later. She told me Joe went into the service a year ago. He was in Iraq and homesick. She asked if I would like to write to him, and the look on her face broke my heart. I said yes. I had the address given to me so fast one might think she had pre-written it. The following weekend I wrote Jo Jo, my pet name for Joe. From that letter on, we were again beasties and would be friends forever. He loved the silly game Truth or Dare, and we played it often. We must have spent a boatload on stamps, Truth or Daring back and forth.
Brent and I had been a couple for a while before I introduced him to Jo, Jo. I kind of wanted him to myself for a while. It is hard now to believe how long it took me to figure out Brent had a job he was barely scraping by on. I couldn't convince him to come live in my place, while he was looking for better employment.
Until I got sick that is. Brent panicked when I didn't answer my buzzer for about fourteen hours. He had no cell phone then. Brent handled it his way. Crash, and down went my door. It scared me into dialing 911. I tried to scream that someone had broken in and went into a coughing fit. The operator on the 911 thought I was being strangled and rushed three cop cars to my apartment.
Brent got arrested. I got an ambulance, and off to the hospital. Several miserable hours and a bottle of antibiotics later, one officer drove me home.
My landlord was yapping at his heels about his broken door. The officer had enough, turned to face the landlord, and ordered him to his apartment.
Jo Jo went to a home-style store and got a door, hinges, and a lock. With his tools he hung the new entry. I cried and coughed. Jo, Jo heated chicken noodle soup, which I refused to eat until he finally took a check to cover what he paid for the stuff at the home store.
I thanked him again and again. When he went home I sat and wondered how I could help Brent. I called and called the police station, but they said he wouldn't answer the call, so I cried myself to sleep.
I woke early the following day to a light, steady knocking on my new door. I dragged myself out of bed to the door. Thanks to the wonder of antibiotics I could manage,
"Who is it?"
Through the door came one wonderful word," Brent."
I had to fight the new door knob, which made me cry, until I realized the door was still locked. Finally I flung it open and jumped on him.
"Whoa girl! I see you missed me."
I wrapped my legs more tightly around his waist. He walked us to the couch and down we went, ending with him seated on the couch and me seated on him.
" Darn you, why didn't you take any of my calls at the jail?"
"I will tell you if you give me a couple of those tissues from that box."
Brent tipped sideways and down. I squealed and we landed sideways on the couch. Between giggling fits I managed to get a few tissues off the side table, and handed him the most.
He ever so gently wiped my eyes and then my snot. Let's face it between having been so sick, being rushed to the hospital and of course watching the police cart my boyfriend off to jail, I just sucked!
" I don't know what the police told you ,but I had one phone call I could make. Sorry but I picked an old friend who is a lawyer. The cops don't let inmates take calls babe."
"Who is this lawyer Brent?"
"Like I said, an old friend Colleen."
I heard the change in his voice, which was a clear " Back off".
I did, after all we had both been through a lot in the last week. We could talk about it later.
" There won't be any charges will there?"
He let go of our hug, swung one leg over me and onto the floor. He was up and pacing the room before I could complain.
" Let me reiterate that I don't want to talk about this right now."
His voice was a growl. I was hurt and a bit scared. Just as suddenly as it started it ended.
"Anything in the fridge Colleen or should I order out for us?"
" Order out would be nice, as long as it's not chicken noodle soup."
Brent cocked his head to the side, which always made my heart jump.
" I'll explain later."
He told me a couple of days later he was charged with destruction of property. He would need to go to court because the landlord wanted a lot of money.
"Not to worry, my lawyer says he isn't getting more than he paid out of pocket."
I wondered how that could be? I was sure Jo Jo and I had covered all the expenses."
When Brent went to work the next day I called Jo Jo to talk. As I thought we covered it all.
Jo Jo said he was dating a woman who was a court clerk and would ask if she could see the charges.
" Gee Jo Jo, I wouldn't want to put her in an uncomfortable position."
" Believe me if she has any concerns it will be a firm No! "
The day before Brent and I were going to Jo Jo' for the two to finally meet. Jo Jo knocked on my door. It was unexpected but I was happy to see him, until we were both seated. I knew when my long-time buddy was dreading something.
"Hey bud what's up?"
"Harr, I dread telling you this."
"What is it Jo Jo. Just tell me please. Is it about Brent?"
"Ya, it is. It seems the charges are assault and battery on two of the cops that arrested him."
"Colleen, he put one cop in the hospital! My friend talked to her pal in the district attorney's office. She transcribed the interview."
" The cops all said he just became someone else from the guy they put into the cop car and the, and I quote, "angry, belerigent, powerful man, they got out." Took seven officers to get him into jail.That's when he beat two of them badly with his hands cuffed behind him."
"Ya, Colleen, this guy's bad news"
Tears fell and Jo Jo patted my shoulder saying how sorry he was. I asked if he still wanted us at his house tomorrow evening. He said of course. I could tell Brent we needed a break. He would be there for me and he was sure his friends would help. I begged him not to tell the others anything up front to let them form their own opinions. He said he didn't like it but he would do it for me.
Brent returned that evening from work with flowers and literally swept me off my feet. He had gotten a better job. He finally moved into my bedroom that night. If I thought he was muscled before, Oh, was I ever right.
He was a gentle lover every time we started making love. Feral is how I'd classified him, somewhere from middle to the end of lovemaking, no objections here. I decided to put our meeting at Joe's off for a week.
When they met it was bro - love at first sight. They laughed together so much I could have gotten jealous.
He got to know a couple of other of our friends, and all of them liked Brent.
Brent was a lot of fun until Jo Jo decided it was truth or dare time.
Everyone saw what I saw. Brent went from his handsome, smiling, happy-go-lucky self, almost to a stranger. When it first happened, we were all pestering him to play. Jo Jo to the rescue.
“Leave the poor man alone, he’s fine.”
"Nah, you all go to it, please I'll just watch you and laugh. Just not my game. Besides, I'll be closest to the fridge and the beer."
We all had a chuckle at that and played. Brent seemed okay with it. This happened a few times, and we added old movie nights for some evenings instead. Brent was very good at winning whatever questions asked about them.
Dare This Truth
One of Jo, Jo's newer friends, John, joined us for a game of truth or dare that evening. John pestered Brent to play, but Brent did his usual "Nar, You all go ahead."
JoJo must have seen that John was looking for a pissing contest with Brent. He told John that Brent rarely played this game, and it was fine.
John just wouldn't let it go. He kept his mouth going at Brent.
That was the moment Brent’s” Nar, nar went to a "NO," you prick!"
We all looked at Brent. What I saw made my mouth run dry.
Brent's nostrils were flaring with the deep breaths he started taking. His forehead had beads of sweat forming. His chin raised, and his eyes were cold as death.
John stood up even though Jo Jo's hand-pulled on his arm.
"Sit down, man!"
"Hey, this guy thinks he's Rambo." John almost spit out.
Brent planted his legs wide, and his chest, upper arm, and thigh muscles were straining against his clothes. One lip curled up.
"Say. It. again., chump."
You know how people say it all happened so fast; it does.
Without another word, Brent was airborne, flying across the table. The rest of us were screaming and ducking.
John tried to turn and run. Brent's lowering shoulder hit him smack in his jaw and neck. A tussle on the floor began. Brent sprang up and lifted John off the floor like a rag-doll. Joe started heading to Brent.
Brent turned to look Joe off and we all just stared. Brent was red-faced, almost purple, with massive veins pulsed all over his face. He wasn't my Brent anymore. John struggled and kicked to no good.
Brent rolled his tight lips back, showing his canines, which had become at least three inches long.
The deep insidious howl that then came from his chest moved across the room’s ceiling. It was not human.
He returned his look to John, who began screaming and begging. Brent exploded, ripping skin and chunks of muscle, with his teeth, from John's face. Arterial blood sprayed all over everyone. A bitten-off ear flew our way.
" Ever hear human bones being crushed? I'll tell you it sounds kind of like heavy popcorn popping in a metal pan. Slow at first, then faster and faster. John was silent then."
The bee's In My Head.
It's usually pretty quiet here. People come with my meals and medication. When I go to the Doctor's office, I keep telling him I never really recovered from that case of the flu I had years ago; that's the problem.
They say, "No, that's not it."
"I keep telling you all that happened to Brent, Joe, Colleen, poor John, and, of course, me."
"Then why aren't you dead, dear?"
" Because Brent loved me, so he didn't hurt me."
" We have shown you newspapers from that time, and they knew nothing of it."
" Maybe it was the government's big cover-up, after it was all done."
The men would place me on the gurney, down the hall, we'd all go. The Doctor too. They hook me up to the electric chair, as I call it. It's really a bed.
"You didn't answer me about the government, Doctor. Don't you like truth or dare?"
They place rolls of cotton on the sides of my head, then what I call the earphones. Here's the mouth guard. I just